House debates

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Constituency Statements

Brand Electorate: Workplace Relations

10:24 am

Photo of Madeleine KingMadeleine King (Brand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

Over the next few days, as members head back to their electorates and their families, it's important to reflect on the year that has been and the year to come. Earlier this year I had the privilege of visiting Alcoa workers at a difficult time in their working lives. In Western Australia, Alcoa workers had to fight over 52 days and across five sites, including in my electorate, in Kwinana, to maintain their current working conditions. I was really pleased to visit the picket line several times, once with the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten. That dispute has been resolved. I thank the Alcoa workers for their patience and their dignity on the picket line and I wish them the very best over Christmas.

As I speak here today, there is an ongoing dispute at the BP refinery in Kwinana. I remain hopeful this issue can be resolved before Christmas and that a loyal workforce will maintain their current workplace conditions. I know this dispute is causing considerable anxiety in the workforce, and no-one wants that at any time of the year, let alone at this time, in the lead-up to Christmas. BP has been at the heart of the economic development of Western Australia since it commenced operations in the 1950s. But it has to be noted that the success of BP in WA is only possible because of the long-serving, skilled and loyal workforce that, for decades, has played an integral role in the communities of Kwinana and Rockingham. I do not support global companies like BP exploiting the power imbalance between a massive global corporate employer and a local, loyal, long-serving workforce seeking to maintain conditions. It smacks of greed and it has to stop.

If we are lucky enough to be elected to government by the people of Australia in the election next year, a Shorten Labor government will change the law to redress the imbalance in bargaining power between workers, and their unions, and employers. These changes will ensure future enterprise agreement negotiations will be conducted fairly, without the threat of cancelling enterprise agreements, while reducing the risk of discussions escalating into extreme action. We hope that is avoidable. I wish the workers at BP the very best in the coming months and I do hope this matter can be resolved.

It's a tough time of year, of course, at Christmas. We need to acknowledge the people in our communities who need help and thank all those non-government organisations that help those in the community who need it most. In the short time I have remaining, I want to thank my staff in the electorate office of Brand. They've gone through a difficult time. Recently we've had to move office and have had significant issues with that move. I want to thank all my staff for their remarkable good humour and their patience with the matters we are dealing with. You're a terrific bunch and I really thank you for your loyalty, for all your help and for your dedication to the people of Brand. It's very important. Thank you. Merry Christmas!